Hit man in 2006 Turkey top court attack jailed for life, another suspect caught fleeing country

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
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Photos shows Alparslan Arslan. (AA Photo)
Photos shows Alparslan Arslan. (AA Photo)

An Ankara court on Friday gave an aggravated life sentence to Alparslan Arslan, the main suspect and hit man in the killing of a judge and wounding of four others in a 2006 armed attack at Turkey's top administrative court.

Arslan shot dead Judge Mustafa Yücel Özbilgin and wounded four others - Mustafa Birden, Ayla Gönenç, Ayfer Özdemir and Ahmet Çobanoğlu - in the attack at the Council of State on May 17, 2006.

The Ankara criminal court separately sentenced Arslan to 72 years in prison for attempting to kill the other four top judges.

Not long after the verdict was announced for all the suspects, Osman Yıldırım, one of three suspects who was released earlier pending trial, was caught on the Turkish-Greek border in the northwestern Edirne province as he was attempting to flee the country.

Gendarmerie units said that Yıldırım was caught while he was trying to cross over into Greece with a backpack to evade justice.

The court handed down 14 years each to Yıldırım and two other suspects, Erhan Timuroğlu and Ismail Sağır, for helping Arslan in the killing of the judge and 39 years for four counts of attempted murder.

The attack on the Council of State judges was first tied by state prosecutors to what they claimed was a much bigger conspiracy, the Ergenekon probe which dates back to 2007 when a cache of explosives was found at the home of a former military officer.

On Aug. 5, 2013, the appeals court separated the case from Ergenekon on the grounds that the local court had failed to show "legal and actual links" between an armed attack at the Council of State (Danıştay) and the Ergenekon, which sought to overthrow the elected government.

In 2017, Turkish authorities said the 2013 Ergenekon trial was based on fabricated evidence, and blamed the prosecutions on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) member soldiers trying to purge the military of rival officers.

FETÖ, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, is accused of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey -- which killed 250 people and injured thousands -- as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltrating Turkish institutions, including the military.

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